Thousands of refugees across the country recently celebrated their first Christmas in Australia. For a special group of new arrivals, the festive season began early at an SSI celebration last month.
The annual Children’s Christmas Party in December was enjoyed by kids from all corners of the world who have come to Australia with their families in search of safety. The celebrations included face painting, balloon twisting, a reptile zoo, sports, arts and crafts, and a special appearance from Santa himself.
Adding to the fun of the day was a performance from a magician who was himself supported by SSI on arrival to Australia and now runs a magic business established with the assistance of SSI’s Ignite Small Business Start-ups initiative, which facilitates business creation for people from refugee background.
The families and children also enjoyed a Christmas lunch generously provided by Sydney restaurant Almond Bar, which is run by sisters and regular Community Kitchen supporters Sharon and Carol Salloum.
SSI CEO Violet Roumeliotis said the festivities gave newly arrived families and children the opportunity to build new community connections, which helped them to adjust to life in Australia.
"At SSI, we provide the essential practical support to help new arrivals begin their lives in Australia," she said, "but we also realise the need for new arrivals to feel welcomed in their community, which sets the tone for their future in Australia and helps to improve feelings of community connectedness, confidence and personal wellbeing.
"There is a strong community in Australia that’s willing to offer friendship and welcome, and Christmas is a great chance to highlight that support."
Ms Roumeliotis said the Christmas season at SSI was made extra special thanks to the generosity of SSI volunteers and supporters including Lindt, Anglicare, Wesley Mission Australia Ministry & Mission, Hillsong Church, Ferrero Rocher, Bethlehem College, Uniting Church Blacktown, Naima, Aqua Fit, the Grange Public School, Supersonics and Friends, Orchard Marketing, the Salvation Army and Nathaniel Bennet.
"These kinds of celebrations wouldn’t be possible without the food, gifts, supplies and time donated in order to offer a warm welcome to our new community members. Thank you to everyone who made this wonderful day possible," she said.